Afternoon Picnic at Pointe Venus
I love the time I get to spend in Tahiti and wanted to let you know about one of my favorite spots for you to have a picnic & swim at Pointe Venus.
Lighthouse at Pointe Venus
- The picturesque Victorian-era lighthouse is located at the tip of this peninsula between the parking lot and the beach. It is in a small park which marks the historic landing site of many famous explorers such as Captain Cook and Captain William Bligh. The first, Captain Samuel Wallis, landed here in 1767, the first European to find Tahiti. Captain Cook watched the rare transit of Venus in front of the sun in 1769 from this point. The crew of the infamous Bounty also landed and came ashore at Pointe Venus in 1788 and did not want to leave.
- The lighthouse was designed and built in 1867/1868 by Robert Louis Stevenson’s father to commemorate the anniversary of Wallis’ arrival. It is built on the site of Cook’s observatory. Nearby there are other memorials: a monument to Captain Cook, a memorial dedicated to the first English Protestant missionaries, and a monument in memory of Tahitians who went to Pitcairn island on HMS Bounty.
- During the war between 1939-1945, the locals had camouflaged the lighthouse by painting the four sides of it with coconut trees so that the Japanese would not be able to see it, and therefore not be able to use it a navigational aid.
- The transit of the planet Venus appears as a small black dot moving across the Sun. It is an infrequent event which only happens about once every 100 years. The most recent transits of the planet Venus were in 2004, and on June 5, 2012. The next transit will be in 2117.
- It is not possible to go inside the lighthouse.
- The black sand beach of Matavai Bay is just to the left of the lighthouse and memorials, the next step in this experience.
(Black sand gets created wherever there are volcanoes and the waves have eroded lava rocks into a fine sand.)
- Leaving the lighthouse, continue away from the parking lot towards the water, just a few yards further. When you get to the beach you will see the mountains off to the left and the silhouette of the island of Moorea in front of you across the water. You have a stunning panoramic view of the ocean. The beach area continues off to the tip on the right, and sometimes there are locals playing volleyball.
- Nothing’s better than finding the perfect spot to lay out that blanket, putting your toes in the sand, letting the sun, salt air, and water wear you out. Lay down a beach throw on the black sand beach with the bay as a scenic backdrop as you work on your tan, and cool down with a refreshing swim in the ocean. Here you can enjoy the sound of the waves, watch local families enjoying the beach, and maybe some surfers or kayakers, or paddle boarders. It’s an easy way to spend the afternoon and to enjoy all that the beach has to offer.
- Bring your own boards or rent equipment here. You will not need snorkeling equipment much here as there is not much to see. You can walk out quite far in the water and only be up to your waist.
- There are bathroom facilities with outside showers to rinse off the salt water and sand.
Take a Walk on the Estuary side
- The estuary is calm and shallow – the body of water on the other side of the tip of the peninsula. One side has the black-sand beach, and the other side is the estuary. Really nice for watching local races depending on the time of year, and teams training in the traditional pirogues (the traditional outrigger canoes with the counterweight, or va’a in local Tahitian language). You can stroll along under the shade of palm trees. There may pirogue fishing boats up off the water, awaiting sunrise to go out in the morning again.
- Check with your hotel if they can let you know if there will be any races going on or other activities.
- Along the edge of the beach, between the lighthouse and the lagoon-side beach is a small tree lined, shady stream with several tables making a great place for a picnic when it is hot. Set-up your picnic at one of the tables. If you didn’t bring anything to eat, there are some places to buy ice-cream and take-away food and snacks depending on the time of day. A picnic at the beach is as much a feeling as it is a meal.The tree in this photo is the ‘purau’ tree, or wild hibiscus. Lots of them grow at Pointe Venus, and the flowers gently fall to the ground in the late afternoon or in the water floating along. Be careful of the holes that abound in the ground as the small crabs make their nests under the shade of the tall trees.
Wild Hibiscus – ‘Purau’ flower
- Maybe you noticed the beautiful flower that is reoccurring in the photos – this wild hibiscus, known as ‘purau’ in Tahitian. It is sometimes called sea hibiscus in English. The flower lives only one day and starts with a clear bright yellow color and changes to an apricot hue, which in turn changes to a final dark red. You will notice them most at the end of the day when they fall from the tree covering the ground or falling on the water. There are numerous wild hibiscus trees here along the stream and the beach at Pointe Venus.
- The local people use it for many medicinal purposes from a gargle for a sore-throat, to a bath to ease skin irritations, to a tea.
- With its bright colors, the hibiscus flower embodies the enchanting allure of the tropics and is a symbol of the Polynesian islands.
- Between the lighthouse and the parking area during the day, there are a few local artisans that have their handicrafts for sale. In the local language, the older ladies are called ‘Mamie’ which means grandmother. They are very friendly.
Purchase a ‘pareu’ (pareo) if you don’t already have one – it is a must for dressing ‘island style’ and worn for lots of occasions.
Swim, surf, paddle boat, kite surf….
Bring your own, or borrow boards. Or just enjoy watching. Not available for rent that I know of at this location. You will not need your snorkeling equipment much here as there is not much to see.
Depending on the winds and the waves, sometimes there are beginner surf lessons here with small waves. I once watched a 4-year old master each wave. Other times it is rather calm.
- Back to the black-sand beach for a magical sunset swim. You have the incredible views of Papeete and Moorea, the neighboring island. The view of the bay is spectacular. Around sunset time, local Polynesians might gather around beach-fires on the beach playing Tahitian rhythms.
- Enjoy all the different colors of the sunset as the sun just sinks into Moorea in the distance. Rinse off at the nearby outside showers before getting back in your car to return to your hotel.
- Night falls very quickly in the tropics, and it can be helpful to have a flashlight on hand.
Mauruuru! (‘Thank you’ in Tahitian)
I hope you enjoyed this afternoon and evening sunset to have a relaxing time outside of a hotel/restaurant setting, or simply a mini-vacation as you read along. This is a local spot to connect with the local vibe and the essence of Mana. The black-sand beach is a water playground for all ages, with a bit of history and astrology as well.
Please contact me if you are interested
LarissaRolley @ outlook.com
Photos and photo printed clothing available in my online store:
📸 About me: I am a lifestyle traveler and experiential photographer.